Music

Five finalists have been selected for the 2019 American Pianists Awards. The five pianists, all in their mid-to-late 20s — Kenny Banks, Jr., Emmet Cohen, Keelan Dimick, Dave Meder and Billy Test — will take part in a year-long competitive process in Indianapolis, home of the American Pianists Association. One will win the coveted Cole Porter Fellowship at the finals there next April.

Anna Webber

On another edition of My Music, Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez tells his extraordinary story of crossing the border from Mexico to the United States to find Quincy Jones.


Isaiah McClain

Jazz has a handful of reigning families — the Clayton, Marsalis, and Eubanks clans among them — but until recently you'd be forgiven for overlooking the McFerrins. The emergence of Madison McFerrin, an inspired singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, underscores the talent in this new musical dynasty.


Jesse Kit

Lizz Wright is well acquainted with the storytelling power of a journey. Her music, rooted in the gospel truths and rustic byways of this country, could be seen as a sustained meditation on movement: not just the flow of bodies in rapturous rhythm, but also the trajectories that mark a life story.

Danielle Nicole is one of the brightest rising stars of the blues. She sings with soulful chops. She writes songs ath are smart and emotional about love and life. She plays bass in her trio with guitarist Brandon Miller and her brother, drummer Chris Schnebelen. “Hot Spell,” one of the songs on her newest album, Cry No More, is a first recording of a song by legendary songwriter Bill Withers.  She sang (and told the story of) that song and played several of her own songs when she came to The Blues Break on WBGO.

 

“I think it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one’s self.”

Arthur Miller put that line in the mouth of a character from After the Fall, which premiered on Broadway in 1964. It’s an argument worth reconsidering as we welcome a new album bearing the same title from Keith Jarrett, a pianist with rare perspective on both the merits of self-reliance and the grasping pursuit of hope.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Mathieu Bitton

The Robert Glasper Experiment has established such a track record in the studio that it can be easy to take for granted the band’s core identity as a live act. It was with a series of overheated gigs in New York, at joints like the 55 Bar, that the Experiment — led by the resourceful, indefatigable keyboardist Robert Glasper — originally found its voice and purpose. And its albums are mostly recorded in real time, live in the studio.

Sub Press / sub-press.com

When it comes to the origin of the word “jazz,” it seems that each person simply believes what she or he wants to.

Jacob Blickenstaff

François Moutin & Kavita Shah, "You Go to My Head"

If you keep up with the modern-jazz mainstream in New York, you probably know François Moutin as a bassist who combines quicksilver agility with growling combustion. You may not yet be familiar with Kavita Shah, a singer grounded in the fundamentals but also brimming with fresh ideas.

Iron City is the group of guitarist Charlie Apicella. They play soul jazz (and more) in the spirit of groovemaster and Hammond B-3 organist Jack McDuff. One Night Only ls the group’s newest album, a tribute to McDuff that includes Brother Jack’s “Dink’s Blues” — one of the tunes they played on The Blues Break. Radam Schwartz, a longtime friend of WBGO, played the station’s own Hammond organ, joined by saxophonist George Ghee and drummer Alan Korzin.

Jazz Night in America / NPR

Spend enough time in New Orleans and you come to understand it as a place for every kind of convergence. The culture hums in an endless exchange, with history forever close at hand. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah understands this to his core: he grew up immersed in ritual Mardi Gras Indian traditions, and distinguished himself as a jazz trumpeter by his early teens. He's now shaping his own artistic reality, creating what he calls "Stretch Music" — a proud hybrid of styles and approaches, with a strong underlay of groove.

Dominic M. Mercier / Opera Philadelphia

“America – I hear you hiss and stare / Do you love the air in me, as I love the air in you?”

With those words, evoking an impassioned patriotism curdled by deep-rooted injustice, Lawrence Brownlee opened the world premiere of Cycles of My Being at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

courtesy of the artist

Hailey Niswanger is familiar with the concept of emergence: for the last five years straight, she has been touted as a rising star on alto and soprano saxophone in the DownBeat Critics Poll.

Luciano Rossetti / Rossetti-Phocus

Dave Burrell attended his first Vision Festival in its fifth year, when it was held on St. Marks Place in the East Village.

"The atmosphere was charged," he recalls, describing the rugged immediacy of a space that had once housed the Electric Circus, a fabled psychedelic rock club. "Everyone was there, waiting their turn to perform. It was magical."

Qwest TV / Photo illustration by Sarah Geledi

What to make of Quincy Jones's new video music service?

B+

August Greene, “Black Kennedy”

Black excellence is a welcome and pressing topic of conversation at the moment, as Black Panther wraps up a record-breaking box office weekend and its soundtrack, spearheaded by Kendrick Lamar, debuts at Number 1. For Common, another rapper with a strong moral compass, the subject also provides a natural through-line on “Black Kennedy,” the luminous new track from August Greene.

Keith Major

Gerald Clayton's recent recording Tributary Tales isn't an album of tributes, but rather one inspired by rivers. The metaphor also works for this pianist in the natural flow of his life: the way he streams from one musical situation to another, whether it's with saxophonist Charles Lloyd, guitarist John Scofield or his own ensemble.


Kevin Winters / Getty Images

Quincy Jones, who will turn 85 next month, retains his ability to electrify audiences.

Vic Damone, a singer who rose to fame along the tail end of the post-war era embodied by The Rat Pack, died yesterday at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla., according to a statement from his family. He was 89.

A first-generation Italian-American, Damone grew up closely studying the work of another similarly situated artist, Frank Sinatra, who would later become a cherished friend. "Without Frank there would not have been a Vic Damone," Damone once said.

Jesse Kitt/Courtesy of the artist

Lizz Wright, “Seems I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You”

Lizz Wright delivered a gift last year in the form of her sixth album, Grace. A statement of extravagant self-assurance, it’s also an American affirmation, and in many ways a balm. 

Yusaku Aoki

Before the influential broadcaster and tastemaker Gilles Peterson was breaking talent on the BBC, he was climbing rooftops as a radio pirate, championing great black music. Now he’s the industry standard in creating diverse playlists that explode musical boundaries.


courtesy of the artist

When saxophonist Ken Fowser looks over his shoulder, he hears and feels the rhythms of his Philadelphia birthplace: Jimmy Heath, John Coltrane, Benny Golson, Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Philly Joe Jones. It's a collective spark that has pushed him forward over a dozen-plus years in New York and numerous recordings. Fowser, never one to back away from the scalding sessions at Smoke and Smalls, has been dressing up club stages across the country with his soulful sound.

Monica Jane Frisell

Bill Frisell is no stranger to the solitary urge. Even in an ensemble setting, his graceful, inquisitive guitar playing can feel like the projection of an interior monologue. He’s a warm and generous collaborator but also a paragon of self-containment, complete unto himself.

Anna Webber

Christian Sands, “J Street”

Last year, pianist Christian Sands released an album aptly titled Reach. Among other things, it was a demonstration of that very idea, showcasing Sands’ flexibilities of intention and style. Now there’s a new EP on the horizon that seems likely to expand the canvas still farther, judging by this track, an exclusive premiere.

Giulietta Verdon-Roe

There's a lot of buzz in Europe about Yazz Ahmed. The Bahrain-born, British-based artist says she discovered her voice on trumpet and flugelhorn by stumbling on a Rabih Abou-Khalil recording featuring Kenny Wheeler. On this edition of My Music on The Checkout, she tells her fascinating story behind her own Arabic-jazz recording "La Saboteuse."


courtesy of the artist

Some experiences stick with you. They cry out for reflection, for the transfigurative potential of an artistic response. That was the case for Mike Reed, the intrepid Chicago drummer and bandleader, after his harrowing encounter with white supremacists in 2009.

Pages